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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review - Agatha Christie - Appointment with Death

I often go back to Agatha Christie (same with Jane Austen) when I want a comfort read. I know murder and generally very convoluted murders shouldn't be a comfort read but its strange but it works!

This book set in Jerusalem initially and then moving into Petra involves the Boynton family with an evil, malignant matriarch at its head. Add to it Sarah King a newly fledged doctor, several other characters and Poirot who just "happens" to be around. Murder seems to follow Poirot like a magnet almost.

The strange thing in this story is that everyone feels that the old lady - Mrs. Boynton must die. That it is absolutely no loss to anyone if she pops off and this is a different feature of the Poirot series.

As usual it is always the unexpected that will happen and the murderer is someone whom you would not point the finger at initially. I wonder whether anyone has truthfully been able to solve the murders in Agatha Christie before the end?

A light read of just 252 pages. For fans of murder mysteries and Agatha Christie a must read.

Tuesday Teaser - Going as far as I can by Duncan Fallowell

This is my first go at the Teaser Tuesday
meme! Wish me luck here!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Page 170

Yesterday the boys of Christ's College celebrated the end of term in grey suits
round collared shirts and ties of horizontal black and white bars.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Review - The Solitude of Prime Numbers - Paolo Giordano

The title of this book fascinated me for months. The cover was equally good.I knew I would never find it in Sri Lanka so this was one of the first books I put on reserve here in Melbourne so that I could get to it before I left! I found it tough going!

A prime number is one that can be divided by itself or by the number one. We find Alice and Mattia both odd children, both single individuals who do not fit in anywhere - family, or school or later in society. They are odd balls and they know it.

In Alice's case an over ambitious father drove her first to a skiing accident and then to terrible anorexia which the family conveniently ignored. In Mattia's case one of a twin who was autistic and whom he was secretly ashamed of - disappeared due to his negligence whilst still a young boy. Mattia never forgave himself and he withdrew into an inner shell, mutilating himself over and over again. Mattia was a brilliant brain excelling in mathematics and this was his lifeline. Alice and Mattia found themselves with something in common. One a cripple physically and one a mental crippled for life.

I do not think I am a gregarious person - I enjoy my solitude as much as anyone else but this book for me was too "alone", and the characters were so isolated and at the same time for me, anyway, miserable in their isolation.

I did finish the book as I normally do. It was 352 pages but it did nothing for me. I know the book won a very prestigious award for its author but the over riding sadness of the book dragged me down.

Review - Fallen Angel by Don J. Snyder

The book deals with Terry who from an early age realizes that he is different from the very rich and famous "summer" people who visit Rose Point. Terry's father is the caretaker cum odd job man and never forgets his place. He works almost as an invisible man and attends to everything that needs to be done.

Fast forward to Terry's success in California and with the death of his father Terry returns to just finalize things in Rose Point and return as swiftly as he can to his life of quick deals and fast money.

The story has a Christmas feel and is also touted as a Christmas read because we see Terry changing from a hard boiled man about town to a feeling, caring person very quickly. This of course is due to his meeting up with Katherine and her daughter Olivia who teach him values which have nothing to do with money.

This book was not a light read but it was certainly an interesting one. 304 pages and in a font which could have been better. I am beginning to realize how important an easily readable book is!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Review - Rose Tremain - Letter to Sister Benedicta and Annabel Goldsmith's No Invitation Required

I read a Rose Tremain last week and loved it. After that this book was a bit of an anti climax! The other book was mind boggling and kept me going from beginning to end. This was a slower book at a much slower pace!

The story involves Ruby - fat and fifty in her own words - and this seems to set the tone for her story. She has been a dutiful wife and mother, subservient to both her husband and children - now all grown up and not wanting to have anything to do with her. We see Leon her husband gravely ill after a stroke but with all appearances of surviving. The story is set in a backdrop of hospital visits and remincences of her life as a child in India - the Sister Benedicta is the nun of India who seemed to have had a hold of Ruby's heart and mind. India also has remained in the back of Ruby's mind and it is only at the end that Ruby decides to take hold of the balance part of her life and do what she wants to do.

The book brings out forcibly what most women do throughout their lives. Specially over the last few centuries. They remain dutiful daughters first, then subservient husbands and caring mothers. Nothing very wrong with that but their entire needs and personalities seem to get completely forgotton in the caring and nurturing and looking after process.

The book is a small one of just 175 pages and I finished it overnight almost!

My next book was the antithesis of the above. Annabel Goldsmith aristocratic, born with a silver spoon in her mouth and a lot of light fun to read. I had heard little of this author and my only knowledge is that she was Imran Khan's mother in law. No small wonder in a cricket mad nation like Sri Lanka where Imran Khan was pin up boy plus cricketeer par excellance!

The book is light hearted and intimate at the same time - divided into chapters of the people who seemed closest to the author and all these characters are well known. The infamous Claus von Bulow and the equally famous David Frost are part of the characters.

To get a small glimpse of British society in its higher echelons as it were this is the perfect read. A book of 177 pages in a nice big font (!!) this was a good read.

I thought Monday was going to be very busy but plans got cancelled so I have a good day for reading. It was forecast as being rather chilly but the sun has come out so its a bright day.

Mailbox Monday - 29th November 2010 being posted on Sunday

I have stuff to do tomorrow so I thought I will post this well in time on Sunday night!

"Mailbox Monday" is the brainchild of Marcia at The Printed Page.

Mailbox Monday is now on a blog tour.

This month's host is Knitting and Sundries. Visit every week this month to see links to the latest and greatest books arriving in mailboxes! Be aware, though, visiting can lead to book envy and toppling TBR piles! There are giveaways also on her site so please go visit.

December's host will be Lady Q at Let Them Read Books! So be certain to stop by her blog and show her some love!

"In My Mailbox" is hosted by The Story Siren

Every week we'll post about what books we have that week (via your mailbox/library/store bought)! Everyone that agrees to participate will try to visit each other's list and leave comments! Everyone is welcome to join! You can join at anytime and you DO NOT have to participate every week.

My mailbox is better than last this and totally dependent on my library at Carnegie in Melbourne. The first up is

a description of the book calls it a compassionate masterpiece and a Christmas story in the manner of Dickens. This is what drew me. I have already started reading so this will be the first review up.

The second book is The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano. This has received good positive reviews. For some reason I am unable to upload the picture of the cover of this book! I had been trying to get this book and for weeks it has been out and not being returned on time. At last.

The other two books are both Agatha Christie which for me are really comfort reading!

Appointment with Death and The Moving Finger. I like to go back to Agatha Christie
and read them again. Somehow the books and story for me are not boring!

A happy reading week but this will be topped up mid week I am sure as I have so many books I want to read before I leave Melbourne!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

This book was part of my Mailbox Monday and I am glad that I was able to finish it before the week ended! It is a small book of 192 pages but the font was rather small and difficult to read.

It is a bright morning in the village of Ashthorpe and everything seems very spring like with apple blossoms and birds chirping and the description is idyllic. Mary a bright student with a wonderful future in front of her is found dead in a stream of just eighteen inches of water. Was it suicide, did she slip from the bridge and drown or was it murder.

In this my first foray into Sheila Radley's cozy mystery it is almost impossible to see how the end turns out. That part of it was the mystery. The other part of this story that made it interesting for me was the way different people react to tragedy and how people are given the strength to carry on all in their different ways. Whether it was Mary's father plodding on with work just to keep business going, or her estranged brother who was envious of Mary's academic success but at the same time heartbroken over her death, the boyfriend who loved her, the boyfriend who loved her and did not show his feelings knowing he will be rebuffed - all these add a very human element to the story.

An interesting mystery murder read.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Review - A Beggar at the Gate - Thalassa Ali

This book came about also as a recommendation from a blogger but for the life of me I cannot remember who it was so that I may thank the person.

The story covers a period of 1838 a time when Sikhs and Muslims were fighting to gain control of the state of Punjab. The British were in the ascendancy and still fighting for control of more and more of India and Afghanistan. Throw into the mix a young British girl sent to India to find a suitable partner. Marianne not the normal sort of British miss seeks adventure, fairplay and justice. Not only just getting embroiled in the politics of the region, she actually gets married to a native Muslim.

The scandal that erupts as a result is unimaginable. It is political and social suicide for not just her but also for the uncle and aunt under whose guardianship she lives in India. The story revolves around Marianne's misgivings whether to divorce her husband and live the life of purdah as all the female members of Hassan's family do, or seek a more free spirited life as part of the English contingent in Calcutta.

For once we see a very enlightened zenana - women who are happy, content and also doing a job which is very important, that of caring for their people not just physically but mentally as well. The typical stereotypes of women in purdah is totally absent in this book. Here you have women who actively take part in the community's welfare which is a refreshing change.

The book at 391 pages in a large print (lovely!) was a very light read for me which I enjoyed. I like to mix my genres when reading and this period of history in India is one which I thoroughly enjoy. We do not have similar books for a period in our own history when Britain was in control of Sri Lanka so this is the closest I could get.

For those who would like to read about the British in India this is a good one.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review - HOLY FOOLS by Joanne Harris

I had read Joanne Harris's Chocolat ages ago and I can remember there too she brings to life the ins and outs of village life in all its rustic glory. Here too Harris is rather ambitious where she transports us to the 1600s a time of turmoil, superstition (unbelievable naivety which is painfully true) and intrigue.

I like history, I love historical fiction but at the beginning of this book I thought this was not for me. Just 50 pages in you get enthralled by the book and the machinations of Le Merle (Guy) our main protagonist and his muse as it were Juliette.
Set in a convent (I have a weakness for convents!!!) a convent which for me was completely different to the convents of my imagination. Piety, ethics and morals are some of the things which are quietly ignored till the arrival of the new abbess an unbelievably 12 year old girl Isabelle who brings with her strict ideas of how a convent should be run along with her private confessor who is evil and who wants to manipulate not just the abbess but the entire convent of 65 nuns to his own will and convenience.

The whole story revolves around Juliette and Guy with each person taking up one sector of the book at a time so that you realize very early on that it is a game between two very strong characters. Juliette unusual for her time governed by feelings of maternal protection, and a love/hate relationship for Guy and he on the other hand selfish to the very last the only important person in his life - himself.

The story telling is ambitious in this one and there is a dark twist almost gothic in this book. It appealed to me very much and I should look for the other Harris books! Just 384 pages and again in a font which was easy to read. A book which I obtained from the Carnegie library and one which I posted as part of my Mailbox.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mailbox Monday and In my Mailbox November 22nd 2010

This is my first foray into Mailbox Monday meme and I am not sure whether I am getting it right.

"Mailbox Monday" is the brainchild of Marcia at The Printed Page.

Mailbox Monday is now on a blog tour.

This month's host is Knitting and Sundries. Visit every week this month to see links to the latest and greatest books arriving in mailboxes! Be aware, though, visiting can lead to book envy and toppling TBR piles! There are giveaways also on her site so please go visit.

December's host will be Lady Q at Let Them Read Books! So be certain to stop by her blog and show her some love!

"In My Mailbox" is hosted by The Story Siren

Every week we'll post about what books we have that week (via your mailbox/library/store bought)! Everyone that agrees to participate will try to visit each other's list and leave comments! Everyone is welcome to join! You can join at anytime and you DO NOT have to participate every week.

My mailbox is very small this week and totally dependent on my library at Carnegie in Melbourne. The first up is

Holy Fools revolves around Juliet, one time acrobat and star performer of a circus troupe led by her lover, Guy LeMerle. Betrayed by him and pregnant with child, she seeks refuge in a nunnery off the Brittany coast and becomes Soeur Auguste. When the abbess dies, an 11-year old girl, niece of a powerful bishop, is appointed the new abbess. She arrives accompanied by LeMerle, disguised as a priest. As the two wield their evil upon the nunnery, Juliet must protect herself and her daughter. This novel is being hailed as one of Joanne Harris's best. Asian Review of Books says, "If you enjoy history, intrigue and characters who dance to life from the page, you'll enjoy Holy Fools

This is also known as Death in the Morning. This is one of the book reviews that came up. The book came up as a recommendation on a book blog.

It's a glorious spring morning in the village of Ashthorpe. Birds are singing, and sunlight is dancing on the river, where Mry Gedge's dress drifts lazily in the shallows and flowers mingle in her hair. The scene is so altogether lovely that some locals think dreamily of Ophelia, drowned for love of noble Hamlet. Chief Inspector Quantrill, though, has little patience for that kind of self-indulgence; he's got a murder to solve. And with a passionless marriage, a job that centers mostly on recovering stolen pigs, and the certain knowledge that he's missed his best chance for romance, he's something of a prisoner of pragmatism. Mary Gedge may indeed have died for love of the wrong man, but in his muddy English market town, that man is unlikely to be a prince of Denmark.

Please go and link up!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Review - Recipe for Life by Nicky Pellegrino

The book transports you to a "nice" world of warm Italian sun, gorgeous food which is most important - continuous and a companionable world of people who are friendly and kind.

The book is divided into little chapters of each character and how they are faring at that particular stage in their lives is spread over quite a long period of time so that one is able to see progress and development of each person. The book deals with Alice a promising chef who loves food and who would like to make this her career and Babetta an older woman who caretakes along with her husband the Villa Rosa which forms the center of this story.

How the characters interact and how the ancilliary characters form part of the major story is also interesting in this book. Like all good stories the human elements of passion, envy, competitiveness, sibling rivalry and lack of communication - all bring additional interest. All the characters have their little flaws and this makes it very plausible. No one is picture perfect. Add to this gorgeous Italian food which is actually made to look very simple and rustic and you have a very good story.

If you want a warm, affectionate read this is a book for you. It takes you to a place where once you finish the book you will be feeling fuzzy - I hope that is an adequate description! I enjoyed this book of 340 pages in a font which again was very easy on the eye considering that I finished the book at 3 a.m.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Review - More than Love Letters by Rosy Thornton

I read about Rosy Thornton on a blog (not this particular book though). As usual my reading is sometimes determined by what is available at the Carnegie library in Melbourne and this sort of popped out.

I loved the book. A description of the book says it is about life, love and the lost art of letter writing. Add to that descriptive emails!

It opens with letters and emails which would make anyone smile and smile and smile. Margaret is a key character of the book and it revolves around her. Margaret in her early twenties despite the oldish sounding name is a inveterate do gooder. She writes to the Council, to the papers and to her MP about each and every subject which she feels strongly about and though at the beginning of this book I thought it was a light read, it does tend to go into a very strong pro feminist stance as well.
It made for a very interesting read.

There are innumerable subjects covered in this book - political satire for one, the position of illegal immigrants in Britain, the sadness of the depressed and the abused, and over riding it all the optimism of the young and a story of romance which ends well.

A book which I would say is slightly old fashioned, very readable and thoroughly enjoyable.

A book of 276 pages in a very easy to read font! I find that this is also an important point for me now. Signs of old age creeping up fast I think.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Review - Trespass by Rose Tremain

A family drama set in southern France with actually two different families and how life mysteriously entwines people. All the characters are well into their sixties
and so how they look at life and the diminishing of their expectations as they realize that their time is limited.

Into a closed conservative world of Cevennes comes a rather arrogant man who thinks he can sweep in and sweep out with a purchase of a "second home". As it is there is antagonism against the rich who buy all the properties of the region depriving the local young of an opportunity of owning a home. Add to this deep family secrets in both the buyer and seller's families and you get a drama dealt with beautifully, keeping you in a bit of suspence wanting to read more. Add to the mix chequered parents on both sides and you have another twist to the story.

Descriptive in detail not just of people but of the region as well is one thing I love when I read. Not having had an opportunity of travelling through Europe other than just two countries and certainly not for the last ten years, I enjoy reading about the nature of places that are part of the story. This story the village and surrounding area is definitely a big part of the book.

Just 253 pages long I finished the book very fast. My time in Melbourne is due to end soon and with that my glorious reading spell as well. I love the library here and am I think a permanent fixture for the time I am here. However, I am looking forward to going back to Sri Lanka - its been a long time away from home.

Apart from my own children, the children of the orphanage also celebrate Christmas and I have 35 gift packs to get ready - the Mannar orphanage also needs more help during the season and there are 15 girls there as well. I have been picking bits and pieces here from the op shops (which have gorgeous stuff) so its going to be an overweight baggage trip home again.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Review - Effie A Victorian Scandal - Merryn Williams

I first saw this book on a blog which is on my reader and I can't for the life of me find this post. Thank you to whoever it is. I like memoirs, I like the Victorian period and fortunately my library was able to get it down for me from a sister library. I never thought it would be available here in Melbourne.

The book was slow moving and not something that could be read fast if you wanted to enjoy the book that is. Sometimes, this is a problem for me personally as I have huge TBR lists and I know that my time in Melbourne is limited and I must try to read all the recommendations as quickly as possible. Sometimes it is quite futile as I don't get all I want - Diary of a Provincial lady is one!

To get back to Effie - a quiet girl brought up in conventional, conservative style in Victorian society marries Ruskin an up and coming art critic. Upto now quite normal, quite alright. Fast forward six years - Ruskin and Effie have not consummated this marriage - this is Ruskin's choice, and he is also totally influenced by his parents and wants Effie to leave by whatever means possible and she institutes an action for divorce unheard in that time. One begins to realize at this stage of the story, that Effie despite her gentle upbringing has a streak of determination and in the face of much adversity, ribald remarks, and controversy goes ahead with this divorce.

A subsequent marriage to a painter Millais and eight children later the scandal of the divorce is never behind her - even after her death and the death of her husband.
Ruskin and Millais continue to remain very successful in their respective posts and flourish whereas Effie takes a complete step behind to live a very quiet life so as to avoid any further scandal. Seems typical of the times!!!

A note which was of interest to me was that the author seemed to think that George Eliot was influenced by the story of Effie & Ruskin when she wrote her masterpiece, Middlemarch.

The book was intriguing as it dealt not just with personal relationships and the manner in which it was expected to be conducted, but also the expectations of society at the time along with the courage of Effie who stood up for what she believed in and who also thought that at 26 life was not just over for her.

A book of 179 pages only it took me several days to get through. A very interesting read.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Review - The Last Pope by Luis Miguel Rocha

This was a book which I read after reading a hilarious synopsis on Reactions to Reading. I thought it was brilliant!!! Please go check. He did give it a very low rating though and on that part we disagree.

Anyway to get back to this review. I have always been intrigued by the Catholic Church and its doings - mainly due to a convent education I think by Irish and Sri Lankan nuns. The book is quite a tome - 302 pages of heavy reading but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

A complicated story of a secret group known as P2 (somewhat similar to Freemasons and the Illuminati) controlling the governments of several countries and part of the hierarchy of the Vatican. Totally responsible for the death of the Pope John Paul I who was Pope for only 33 days. According to the author other than three characters of the story who form the main mystery/thriller part everything else in the story is true and that is what makes it rather frightening to know to what extent the Church and really the hierarchy within the church will go to protect what they think is "theirs" personally. What they wanted to protect was the reputation and standing of the church, not dogma or doctrine and that is rather sad as well.

The actions of the CIA and the Mafia are rather troubling. The author assures us that it is not so today but that it was so during a period of 1971 to 1981 in the financial sphere only and not the religious side. Nevertheless it strikes a jarring note. The author very specifically states that there are other organizations in the Vatican who are even more powerful today.

John Paul I did not want to be pope and prayed that he will not be elected. On his election he mentioned the fateful words "May God forgive you for what you have done to me". Who or what he meant remains a mystery todate.

John Paul I's death still remains a mystery. His body was embalmed within 24 hours so an autopsy was not possible. All those connected and those who worked with him were told to take a vow of silence on his death. The mystery remains.

I would give this book a 4 out of 5 but it is strictly for those who will enjoy reading about the Catholic church, the Vatican and the ramifications of the Papacy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review - Anita Shreve's TESTIMONY

A video surfaces in a conservative school of a sexual orgy of a kind involving an underage girl and three boys with one other boy videotaping the whole scene. How it evolves from that point is the whole story of Testimony.

Told by all parties to the story - even those on the periphery - it brings the cause and effect theory very close to the entire community. How one action like the ripples on a pond just keep spreading and spreading till the entire pond is affected. Told from the first person angle it is very upclose and personal - each person outlines and gives his story and the part he played or what he saw overall during the entire time the story and the case was enacted.

Who is to blame for the fiasco. As the boys were all of age were they responsible for their actions. The fourteen year old girl described as a "vixen" and who on tape looked a very willing participant was she to blame on account of her age. Did her cries of rape and being drugged or made drunk sound true after four days. Her interviews seemed also to indicate that for her it seemed a fairy story where she was the main character and she spun it to her advantage when it suited her. How the lives of so many people were destroyed - one commits suicide, two very clever boys destined for very high things all lost in an instant. Parents marriages broke up as they could not take the stress of the case, friendships lost not just amongst the youngsters but even amongst the older folk.

The story was fascinating. The subject is of course commonplace and to take this subject and make it into this intriguing story is the cleverness of Shreve. You couldnt put this down once you started reading this book.

A book of just 305 pages a 4 out of 5 for this one.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review - A family daughter by Maile Meloy

I chose this book mainly because of its cover and the title! I also hadn't read about it on the blogs and this interested me. I sometimes like to go off and pick books up which I have never heard about.

Again a family story - and how it evolves from Yvette and Teddy to Margot, Clarissa, and Jamie and subsequently to their children and the characters revolving in everyone's lives.

The attachment of children to a particular parent - where the other parent feels totally alienated is also seen in this book very visibly. Its a common enough occurence but one which I have not found so obviously written about before. It makes one think very specifically that as a parent you shouldn't favor one child in particular. The damage it could do to the other people is immense.

Meloy keeps introducing characters into the story - though they are on the periphery of it as it were, they are key elements to the story as well so that finally they are not minor characters but form the crux of the story. This was an unusual feature of this book.

An interesting, light read of just 325 pages. 3 out of 5 for me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Review - Anita Shreve's Strange Fits of Passion

Anita Shreve takes a very commonplace story - an abusive violent husband and a submissive wife and turns it on its head! The story is compiled of a reporter's writings and letters from prison from Maureen who is convicted of killing her husband.

We go back in this story 20 years and it is being told in the present to Maureen's daughter Caroline who is a young college student - and the familiar story becomes somehow different in Shreve's hands.

Maureen decides to run away as she realizes there is no choice facing her - taking baby Caroline with her. For a period of six weeks she is able to live an idyllic life in a rural town, enjoying very quietly domestic life with her baby till Harrold turns up and her life is turned upside down once again.

The spectre of domestic violence in the 1970's was not a subject much discussed and rape within a marriage was not even an offence so this was a difficult subject to handle at the time. In the present context we would realize that Maureen could have done much more but at the time there were no options for her other than to run away.

A very straightforward characterization of both Maureen and Harrold make this book an exceptional read.

Just 336 pages long I would give it a 4 out of 5.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review - Romancing Miss Bronte by Juliet Gael

Reading this book makes you aware of how much one (in this case me) did not know about the Bronte family including their autocratic father. The story starts long before the sisters were published and depicts their daily rather mundane life as the three of them, extremely close to each other, realize that nothing is going to change in their life with Bramwell the dissolute and drunk brother on the one hand and their father ingrained in autocratic behavior on the other.

One feels a great deal of sympathy for the three girls - all almost reverential to their father and his feelings on every subject under the sun, even if they do not agree with him. Everything in their life upto this point has been done in order not to upset him in any way in case "he suffers a rise in blood pressure".

Writing is a means of escape into their own worlds - their human feelings of love, passion and the world outside are brought into this bleak, humdrum life from which they dont seem to be able to escape. Add to that the threat of tubercolosis constantly hanging over them - Mama and two siblings at this stage have already succumbed. The tragedy of an only son who has been the apple of his father's eye and who is selfish and concerned only about his own feelings adds to their troubles.
Bramwell dies of consumption and this is a blow to the entire family.

Publishing of their works under men's names as they feel they would be held up to both criticism and ridicule if they publish under their own names the three sisters handle their poetry and books in different ways. Emily in her own world of doing her own thing and quite oblivious to others, Anne prim and rather conservative and Charlotte conservative and determined.

The book follows their lives with Charlotte leading the way - Emily and Anne succumb within six months of each other to tubercolosis and die leaving Charlotte all alone
and totally responsible for her father. Her love life and her marriage follow and Gael handles this subject specially Charlotte's awakening to her sexuality and her increasing awareness of her love for her husband very very beautifully. The story is tragic of course ending with Charlotte's death. The book is sad in that it encompasses an entire family doomed to tragedy almost from the onset. The story however is so beautifully handled that one has to read to the end and see what is going to happen.

A absolutely well written book 5 out of 5 for this one for me. Now I must go and hunt the other books which I haven't read by the Bronte sisters.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review - Missing you Already by Pauline McLynn

Doing two reviews today as things are piling up around here! Unlike The Island which I have read so much about before I actually got my hands on the book, Missing you Already was just a book I picked up at the library.

For me, this book was a really good read. Kitty from a nondescript little town in Norfolk is someone who almost melts into the background and that is how she likes to be. She is in charge of the Lost and Found in a small railway station where there is not much of traffic, just a few trains stopping here and there, but she does take her job seriously.

Add to this her involvement with Dan from the time she was a teenager, the affair still going on despite Dan's marriage to Donna. Kitty sounds like the last person who would allow herself to get involved with someone who is married but this is something bigger than herself and she just cannot get out of the situation.

A further complication and this is the highlight of the story is Kitty's efforts to deal with her mother's increasing mental disability of Alzheimers. May has been an articulate, attractive, involved woman who now deteriorates to the point of being unrecognisable. Kitty's determination to handle this difficult situation single handedly almost is the crux of the story - her taking her mother to Egypt on a holiday of a lifetime shows Kitty's sheer grit in the face of so much adversity and braving people who have no inkling of May's condition and who put her down as being a mental case is admirable.

The book was not a light read - it dealt with a painful subject and one which is becoming increasingly common. May's idiosyncracies whilst being funny, are not funny in the manner in which it is portrayed in this book.

A really good book and a new author for me. McLynn has written several other novels and I will be definitely looking out for them. A 4 out of 5 for this one.

Review - The Island by Elin Hilderbrand

It starts off in an idyllic manner - Birdie arranges a weekend on Tuckernuck Island an island retreat of the Cousins's family used for decades as a summer holiday camp.
Her daughter Chess is getting married and Birdie thinks this will be a good one on one time for her daughter and herself to bond before her upcoming marriage.

Fast forward a bit, Chess has called off the wedding - no reason being given - and worse a couple of days later her ex-fiancee Michael is killed in a climbing accident. Chess feels directly responsible for his death and is distraught. The weekend arranged by Birdie turns into a month and Birdie also manages to rope in Tate the younger daughter and India - the bohemian rebel sister of Birdie.

Well a nice mix so far. Two generations - lots of hidden family history and lots of unresolved issues. A saga of hidden insecurities and passions all being unveiled almost like a drama - Birdie herself ignored and finding love with Hank after so long, Tate falling in love with someone she was always in love with and who did not even know of her existence, Chess having to come to terms with loss, life and a new love which is disastrous and India coming to terms with the loss of her husband who committed suicide.

I am only touching on the book so these are still teasers. There is a great deal more in the book - a light paced read about women bonding against several odds. A 3 out of 5 for me.